Susie Van Kirk

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In June 1900, Stewart Culin (1858-1929), self-educated anthropologist/ethnographer, traveled to northwestern California on a colleting trip. He was then Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Paleontology, and the purpose of his trip to was to secure “a number of Indian curios and relics,” which he did, spending about $150 in Hoopa. He also secured curios from the Mad River Indians near Blue Lake (Blue Lake Advocate 23 June 1900).

Just what Culin collected is unclear, other than the baskets, probably all of which were either Hupa or Yurok, and possibly some Karuk. The tribal heritage of those who provided the “curios” is also unclear. “The Mad River Indians near Blue Lake” may have been just those people but could have also included people of Chilula heritage, the result of a Chilula raid at Blue Lake before contact (Loud 1918). Or, because Indian people from Hoopa, Redwood Creek and even up and down the Klamath moved to Blue Lake, Culin’s purchases could have included objects from other locations. And who were the people he encountered in Hoopa? Were Wiyot people living in Hoopa at the time of Culin’s visit, and if, so, are there Wiyot materials at the University of Pennsylvania or perhaps, at Culin’s subsequent location with the Institute of Arts and Sciences of the Brooklyn Museum in New York City?

This paper explores the possibility that Wiyot people were residents of Hoopa at the time of Culin’s trip, that he collected cultural items from them, and that those objects are now subject to repatriation. Coincidentally, the research also provided information on relocations during the reservation period, and later, local communities where Wiyot people settled after returning home.


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